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Lillard and McCollum Focused on Defense for Next Season

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Portland Trail Blazers v Los Angeles Lakers - Game One Photo by Joe Murphy/NBAE via Getty Images

The Portland Trail Blazers’ starting backcourt of Damian Lillard and CJ McCollum vowed on Tuesday to “take the challenge” when it comes to improving the team’s backcourt defense next season according to Jason Quick of The Athletic.

“I think me and CJ got to take the challenge more on defense,” Lillard said.

Added McCollum: “I think for us as a team, it’s about the guards — the guards have to do a better job guarding, so that’s myself and Dame.”

Defense was a point of focus for the entire organization this offseason. The front office targeted defensive-minded players to shore up that end of the court after finishing 27th in defensive efficiency last season.

“Clearly (defense) was a need,” Olshey said. “Some of that will have to be addressed strategically in terms of how we are planning to play, but the majority of that needed to be solved from a personnel standpoint, which is my responsibility.”

As undersized guards who carry a large offensive burden, Lillard and McCollum have never been known for their outstanding defense. Both have taken steps to improve over the past few years, especially Lillard, but they will have to take another leap for this team to be taken seriously as a contender.

I think over each year of my career I’ve improved defensively, and I think CJ would say the same thing,” Lillard said. “But you know, I think this year, to really take that step we want to take, we both have to take the challenge on a different level defensively.

We have to make sure we are holding ourselves accountable, and on the level of everybody else on the defensive end. If we make that a priority and we show true, consistent commitment to that...then I think we will do great.”

You can read the entire piece here (paywall).